Laura Elizabeth Howe Richards.

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University of California









Copyright, 1898,


Electrotyped and Printed by C. H. Simonds & Co.
Boston, Mass., U. S. A.


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I. MENONQUIT . . . .11










A SQUARE, gray house, substantial
and roomy, perched on a crag ; the
front windows looking down on the white,
rock-framed beach, the harbour, and the
black mass of Toluma Island opposite;
while the back windows command the
village street, and the gray fish-houses,
with their pleasant confusion of lobster-
pots and ropes and boats. This house is
the Influence, the oldest house on Menon-
quit Island, formerly the home of many a
stately sea-king, of the early fishers and
mariners of Menonquit, now owned and


kept by Mrs. Treherne, the bright-eyed
and cheery descendant of those kings.
This is Mrs. Treherne, standing on the
verandah this bright June morning, and
the young person beside her is Miss Mary
Weymouth, who has come to spend a month
on the island of her love. She is looking
very cross, which is a pity for so pretty
and agreeable a girl. She has seen in the
narrow entry of the inn a strange trunk
standing beside her own, and her soul is
filled with bitterness.

" Oh, Mrs. Treherne ! You wrote me that
no one else was here. You know I told
you that I wished positively to be alone if
I came."

" And no one else was here, Miss Wey
mouth ! " responded the landlady, promptly.
" I wrote you the truth, and I expected no
one till the end of the month; but this
young gentleman came here all by himself
last night. He was with friends on board
a yacht, and got them to leave him here.
He wants to be alone, too, and desires


nothing but quiet. Real pleasant, he
seems! his name is

" Oh, never mind his name, Mrs. Tre-
herne ! I dare say we shall not interfere
with each other. I suppose I can have my
meals alone, can I ? And did you remem
ber the room I liked so much last year?"

" Yes, indeed ! " said Mrs. Treherne.
" It is all ready for you ; and, as for
meals, the gentleman was particular
about having his meals an hour before
every one else, and he expects to live
outdoors most of the time. I dare say
you won t set eyes on each other from
one day to another."

" I dare say not ! " said Miss Weymouth.
" But it is exasperating, all the same ! " she
said to herself, when she was left alone
in her own room, the corner room that
looked out over the great south down and
the sea beyond it.

"I did think I could find solitude on
Menonquit in June. Why could not this
stupid person have been left on Ma-


tinicus, or at Christmas Cove, or Owl s
Head, or anywhere else but here ?

" There he is now ! " and she drew back
from the window, taking refuge behind
the muslin curtain.

" Harvard, if ever I saw it ! Humph !
Yes, not a doubt of it. John Harvard,
sir, is what I shall call you, since luckily
I did not hear your other name. Oh, you
tiresome creature ! " She shook her head
and retired, as the young man came up
the steps of the Influence. He was a
stalwart, broad - shouldered fellow, who
walked lightly enough, yet set his feet
down with weight and purpose. There
may have been a slight Harvard swing to
his arms, though people can swing their
arms elsewhere, it has been asserted.

He came into the hall, whistling
"Toreador," his brown eyes shining, his
face alight with cheerfulness ; but came to
a dead stop before the two trunks in the
entry. His face fell.

" Oh, I say ! " he murmured. " I didn t


bargain for this, you know. They told
me there wasn t a soul on the island ex
cept the people themselves."

He surveyed the peaceful trunk with
profound disgust, which deepened as he
read the legend upon it.

" M. W., Smith College."

" I ask you, is a person called upon to
endure this ? I wonder at you, Miss
Smith ; yes, I do ! Miss Smith you
shall be to me. You probably dislike
the name, and anything to give pain, as
Michael Finsbury says. But to think of
my not letting Tom come ashore with
me, because I wanted to try it alone, and
do a lot of thinking, and then having
to foregather with Smith College. My dear
miss, you must not expect it ! " And mut
tering unseemly remarks concerning edu
cational establishments for women, this
young gentleman went in to his supper.

Next morning the trunks were gone
from the entry, and the young man,
coming out on the verandah for his

1 6 LOVE AND ROCKS. " >.

after - breakfast smoke, had almost for
gotten the newcomer, till he caught a
glimpse of a slight figure in a short blue
skirt and jacket, with two long braids of
hair hanging down, and a Tam-o -Shanter
cap atop. The girl s face was turned
towards him for an instant only, but he
saw that it was rosy and youthful, with
a pair of wide-open blue eyes, and a.
determined little mouth. He gave an
inward whistle as she disappeared. " Six
teen, and pretty ! I looked for twenty-
eight, and spectacled. A forward chit,
indeed, to be frisking it alone on islands ;
but so the century closes ! And, after
all, there is no one for her to run away
with, if she were so minded."

He tramped up and down the verandah,
smoking cheerfully, trying to whistle at
the same time, and making elaborate plans
for an all-day sketching tramp.

Mary Weymouth, waiting at the corner
for a chance to slip by unseen and get
away, regarded him with unfriendly eyes.


" Oh, you stupid ! Why can t you smoke
your horrid pipe somewhere else ? Block
ing up the way like this ! I wish they had
a chair of sense at Harvard ! It s dis
graceful ! "

Finally, out of all patience, she waited
till the stranger turned his back, and then
fairly ran across the verandah ; and, as
the young man turned again, he saw her
light figure, black against the glowing
sky, flitting over the hill.

"Exeunt pigtails!" he said. "The
child avoids me ; tis well ! " and he
waved his pipe in salutation. " Be good,
sweet maid, and continue to shun my
baleful presence

Flower o the peach !
Death for us all, and his own life for each !

And after all, one small girl is not so
much matter on an island three miles

Mary Weymouth, never looking back,
took her way down towards the south


rocks. " Just for ten minutes ! " she
said to herself. " Just ten minutes con
versation with the shrimps and crabs,
then the yew-hollow, and reflection ! "

The island lay green and fair under
the June sun, ringed with its black rocks,
which struck sharply against the tossing
blue of the sea. In the harbour, if so .
one may call the narrow gut which lies be-;
tween the island and its sister, Toluma,
the water was smoother than outside, and
here the fishers were busy in their boats,
hoisting sail and standing out to sea;
some of them were already out and away,
and their sails shone in the sun like
patches of gleaming snow.

Mary Weymouth stepped from rock
to rock, now singing bits of sea-song,
now talking to herself. She was happy.
All winter she had longed for the island.
She had seen it last year for the first time,
though its name had been familiar all her
life ; her people had come from here,
started from here to California, far back


in the forties. And when she came, in
those first homesick weeks before the col
lege term began, and with it the new,
strange life, - lo, it was a home to which
she came.

All the stories that her grandmother
had told her, all the wild pictures her
child-mind had formed of the lonely is
land, sea-beaten and wind-swept, which
her grandfather left because he did not
love the fishing

(" But his heart stayed there, my
dear ! " said Grandmother Weymouth.
" His heart stayed there, and he longed
for it all his life.")-

These things had made the black rocks,
and the free hilltops, and the deep-bos
omed valleys, welcome her as their own
child. She felt that it was all her own,
her birthright, her heritage.

The island people were her friends by
inheritance ; she would make them so
by love, give her only a little time alone
with them. But for the strangers, the


summer visitors, the artists, and the rare
excursionists, Mary felt a fierce scorn.
She called it hatred, but she was only
twenty. She had passed them with head
held high, and eyes that saw nothing.
What business had they here, on her
island ? They had no graves in the gray
enclosure on the lighthouse hill. No
voices called to them from cliff and wood
and vale. Why could they not go to the
Isles of Shoals, or anywhere else, and
leave her alone with her own ?

So when this summer came, with its
great question to decide, she had flown
like a bird to her mountain, the very hour
college closed, feeling sure that now she
should have her island all to herself, and
could wander and think at her ease.

Well, and after all, of course it
was annoying, but how was one young
Harvard sprig to interfere with her?
Now that the matter of the meals was
settled, and there was no actual need of
their ever coming in contact, she could


forget him, or consider him in the light of
a post.

The rocks gleamed black and wet
where the tide had gone down. The
little pools were gay with green and
crimson mosses, and alive with all man
ner of cheerful inhabitants ; below, the
foam came curling up, caressing, inviting.
How pleasant it would be to sit and dip
one s feet

" No ! " said Mary, with decision. " No !
I am going to the yew-hollow. I said I
would reflect, and I will ; and it would
not be possible here, with everything
making eyes at me like this."

She struck upward over the down that
heaved its great shoulder towards the
south end of the island. By and by she
came to a little dell that lay open to the
sun, with the sea looking in at one end.
The bottom was a plot of russet grass,
with water twinkling wherever a sunbeam
struck; the sloping sides were covered
with a dense mat of trailing yew. Mary


threw herself down on the elastic bed,
and inhaled its fragrance with deep

" Oh, good ! Oh, native ! " she cried.
" I was born here, one of me. Just smell
it, will you ? And taste ! " she added,
plucking one of the gray-blue berries, and
crushing it between her teeth.

" Talk of the almond and rose of Da-
mascus ! H m ! Let them come here !
No ! Let them stay away, I mean. And
now, let me think ! "

The question of a career ! What should
she do with her life ? It lay before her,
as the sea lay here ; these gates of green,
with the blue shining beyond them, were
the gates of womanhood opening before
her. Yes ! she must decide now, and
shape the three years of college yet re
maining to fit the future towards which
she looked. That was why she had come
here to the island ; to be alone, to think
and to plan. Yes !

How blue the sea ! Was that the mail


schooner, just in sight? The Captain
ought to have had a great " chance,"
such a morning as this.

Literature ! There was a field ! One
of the greatest in the world. And talk
ing of fields, that green knoll where she
had seen the sheep huddled together
this morning would be a lovely place
to sit in !

Literature ! or medicine ! Only one
didn t like drugs, and they were finding out
such horrible things every day. One could
no longer enjoy the privacy of one s own
bones. And talking of drugs, was there
any drug or spice so sweet as this yew ?
Could not some wonderful balsam be made
from it that should cure all diseases, nerves
and things ? " And there came no more
any such spices as the Queen of Sheba
brought to King Solomon." This might
be Balsam of Sheba, or Solomon s
Strength, or anything alliterative.

The sun beat down on the yew bed,
and fresh puffs of warm perfume crept


from it. The scent was going to her
head ! Perfumes used to poison, did
they intoxicate first ? The sun was very
warm literature a great field full
of brown grass and yew

Silence ! The sea lapping on the crags
below. The girl asleep under the summer
blue, white gulls wheeling above, white
clouds floating, silence !

" Literature ! " said Mary again, sitting
up straight and looking about her wide-

A new fragrance was in her nostrils ; a
faint blue smoke hung near her in curling,
fading rings ; was it could it be
tobacco smoke ?

And just beyond the seaward end of
the dell, a loose stone rolled from under a
hasty foot, and went dropping down from
ledge to ledge till it plunged in the water.
Then silence again.

" Impertinence ! " said Mary Wey-



IT is difficult to do much deep thinking
when one is exploring the country of
one s heart. Mary Weymouth started out
every morning with her heart full of cour
age and her head full of ideas ; she came
back at night rosy, happy-eyed, uncon
scious of anything save the sea and the
rocks, the rocks and the sea.

To-day, for example, she was deter
mined to consider the subject of education
as a profession. Learning should be her
comrade, and she would think from morn
ing till night of a teacher s life ; put her
self into it as into a frame, and look at
herself. After all, what could be more
useful than teaching, and for what could
she so well fit herself ?


Starting out, she met the children of
the village on their way to school ; and
full of pleasure and friendly impulse, she
stopped to exchange greetings with them.
Some of the children replied cheerfully,
others hung their heads and put fingers in
their mouths, while others still fairly ran
away when she asked how they liked their
school and what were their favourite les

She would change all that, if she taught
children ; and she shook her head gravely
as she climbed the hill. Her pupils should
learn from the first to be gracious, courte
ous to strangers, full of smiles and cor
diality. Perhaps she might better begin
the day by going to the school, talking
with the teacher, perhaps suggesting to
her these ideas. No ! On the whole, the
afternoon would do as well, and it would
be wicked to spend such a morning as
this within four walls.

Graciousness ! It was a duty that every
one owed to his fellow beings here the


young lady looked up, and saw coming
towards her the fellow being who was also
her fellow lodger ; and she turned off into
the field, and almost ran up the hillside,
over the brow, into the hollow beyond.

Seated on a comfortable boulder, she
reflected, and became aware of inconsist
ency in her behaviour. Graciousness ! It
was a duty that every one owed

" Oh ! I can t help it ! " she said, shrug
ging her shoulders. " I must be allowed
to live ! " and then she looked about her,
and the place possessed her.

The rocks ran in long, gray ridges,
climbing up here and there into pinnacles
and cairns. Between the ridges the grass
was green as emerald, and water trickled
everywhere in silent rills, or stood in pools
to catch the sky. Wherever the green
was broken, the soil showed black and
rich like peat.

Old, twisted firs stood here and there,
like crabbed green dwarfs, guarding the
fairy hollows. " I was born here ! " cried


Mary, spreading her arms wide to clasp
the brightness and the beauty of it. Then
she stepped along from tuft to tuft of long
grass, feeling the water pleasantly cool
through her canvas shoes. Presently
she came to where a granite ridge had
been rent apart, and formed a gateway ;
she passed through this, and found her
self in a pretty place indeed.

The gray rocks shut in a space some
twenty feet across either way ; the grass
was firm and short and green, how
green ! That was all, grass and granite,
and a sky burning blue overhead ; but
the rocks huddled together in all possible
shapes, quaint or solemn, and here and
there were clefts between them, running
back into blackness, suggestive of all
manner of delightful mystery.

One such cleft invited Mary to explore
it. The entrance was low, and she must
creep in on hands and knees; but once
inside she could sit upright, and fancy
herself a fair anchorite in a cell of the


Thebaid, studying the question of edu

" It smells a little sheepy," she said,
" and it might be convenient to stand up
or turn round once in a while, say every
seven years or so, but on the whole an
enchanting place ! I can certainly medi
tate here, for there is nothing to capture
the eyes, only good, solid stone wall, and
the peep of blue and green outside. Now
I will think about education in good ear
nest. Gracious ! What is that ? "

She listened and looked, and looking,
felt her blood turn slowly to ice.

Into the little rock-parlour from which
she had just retreated stepped an active
figure that Mary already knew too well.
Pipe in mouth, sketching tools in hand,
humming "Toreador" through his
teeth, John Harvard came ! Oh, dis
traction ! oh, horror ! the hateful, odi
ous man ! he was sitting down, he was
opening his sketch-book, he was actu
ally establishing himself for the morning !


Seated with his back turned squarely
to the cave, facing the entrance of the
rock-parlour, the young man drew a deep
breath of satisfaction, and addressed the
universe. " Comfortable ? Yes, thank you !
I do believe this the prettiest bit I have
found yet. No vile humanity to disturb
the fantastic pannicles ! " And he fell to
sketching, with ardour, the entrancing
view framed by the stony gates; the
black fir that leaned across, the shimmer
ing foreground, the living blue beyond.

What was to be done? The ice in
Mary s veins melted, glowed, turned to
liquid fire. If she could only rush out,
with a shriek that should paralyse him,
should prevent him from turning round ;
rush out, and past him, and away ! But
there was to be no rushing. She had
crept in forwards, she must creep out
backwards, on her hands and knees.
Well, she would not do that ! She would
sooner die in the cave !

This being settled, Miss Weymouth


became aware of cramps in her foot ;
she was sitting with it doubled up under
her, for there was not room to stretch
both feet out. She remembered reading
how an actress, Miss Cushman, was
it ? to help her sister, smitten with
stage-fright, crouched motionless in one
position for half an hour. Oh, well, but
if you came to that, there were the In
dian fakirs, who held their arms up
straight till they stiffened. Oh ! oh !
but Mary was not a fakir. Slowly and
cautiously she drew her foot out ; it
struck a pebble, and sent it rattling to
the entrance. She held her breath ; but
the sketcher took no notice.

" To re ador ! " he sang abstract
edly, mixing shades of blue, with one eye
on the horizon. Mary noticed that he
had a delightful voice, and hated him
the more for it.

" Oh, you goose ! why can t you go out
of the door?" she muttered under her


It was her back now ; the rock was
sticking into it, hard and knobby. The
smell of sheep grew stronger. Oh ! why,
why had she ever got into this dreadful
little hole? She could not stay here all
the morning ; she should die !

How long had she been here now ? It
seemed hours. If she could only sleep !
She shut her eyes, and repeated Shelley s
" Hymn to Night," as she had been ad-
vised to do when her nerves required
soothing. Then she parodied it :

" Swiftly walk into the western wave,

Hideous fright !

Off from the entrance of this cave,
Where all the long and lone daylight
Thou keepest me a prisoner here,
In sheepy dungeon, dark and drear,
Swift be thy flight."

But sleep did not come, and the aches
grew and multiplied ; and at length it
came over Mary that she could not bear
the situation any longer. She must come
out ; she did not care what happened.


Softly, slowly she began to move back
ward towards the mouth of the cavern.
If she could only get out, get upright on
her feet before he turned round ! Vain
hope ! Another pebble rattled and rolled,
another !

"Hallo!" said John Harvard. He
turned, and his bright, dark eyes looked
directly into the cave.

" Something in there ! Sheep ! Come
out, sheep ! Come out, I say ! " He was
looking about for a stone to throw, with
a view to dislodging the intruder, when
a voice came from the depths, icy and
tremulous :

" Do not throw stones ! I am com
ing out ! "

The voice broke off suddenly ; the
young man did not hear the sob, but he
felt it. He sprang to his feet and pulled
off his cap, keeping his back carefully
turned to the cave.

" I beg your pardon ! " he said. " I m
awfully sorry ! You you are sure you
don t need any help ? "


Mary tried to say, " No, thank you ! "
but the words would not come out
straight. She crept out, the pebbles
rolling to right and left, scrambled to
her feet and turned to flee; but in the
rocky gateway she paused. Her breath
was coming painfully short and quick,
but she pulled herself together, and said,
with tolerable distinctness, " I thank you,,
sir, for your considerateness."

" May I turn round now ? " asked John
Harvard, meekly.

" Oh, of course you may ! " cried Mary,
angrily. " Good-morning ! "

He turned quickly, but not quickly
enough ; the last fold of a blue skirt
fluttered and vanished. Hasty feet fled
away over the down towards the shore.

" Miss Smith," said John Harvard, " /
call that a scurvy trick ! "



FOR some time after this Mary lived
in peace. She had no further
trouble from her fellow lodger. Per
haps he was exploring the further end
of the island; at all events, he came no
more to her favourite haunts. Only in the
evening she would hear his springing step
and his cheery whistle, as he came run
ning up the steps and passed through
the narrow entry on his way to the dining-
room. He never so much as looked in at
the parlour door ; and being thus safe
from annoyance, Mary gradually got into
the way of listening for the whistle and
the light, firm tread. He was a punctual


creature, she acknowledged ; really almost
as good as a clock. One night, it is true,
she was very angry, because he stood
under her window and sang for an hour.
It was full moon ; he stood by the ve
randah rail, and certainly he was very,
good-looking, and graceful, and his
voice was enchanting. Still, it was im
pertinent ; not that she really supposed
he was audacious enough to fancy that she
was listening to him, but still, even the
proximity to her window, and the absence
of any one but herself to whom he could
sing, in short, it was an impertinence,
and Mary was furious. She did not go to
bed very early, it was full moon, as I
said, and the glory of it unspeakable ; and
when she did, all was silent except the
sea, and the last song was ringing in her
ears. It had a quaint little refrain, evi
dently a song of Stuart times, Mary
thought. She was rather well up in
Stuart songs ; she had taken a course in
them this very year.


" Oh, it s never yet the blade I met
Could prick to bring me pain.

Oh, it s never yet the maid I met
I sighed to meet again.

Then it s hey ! for a horse !

A hound and a horse !

And over the hills away.

For he who d seek

A velvet cheek,

He rides not with me to-day."

When Mary came down the next morn
ing, she was still in a fine little glow of
indignation, she did not know exactly at
what. Mrs. Treherne greeted her with
a corresponding glow of delight.

" Well now, Miss Weymouth," she said,
" it is a thousand pities you didn t hear
my concert last night."

" Your concert ? " repeated Mary.

" Yes, all my own ! " said the good
landlady, beaming. " Twas while you
were down to Cap n Avery s, I expect.
The other boarder, he sat out on the
porch and sung to me, as much as an
hour. Oh, there ! he does sing beauti-



ful ! You might go to a dozen concerts,

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Online LibraryLaura Elizabeth Howe RichardsLove and rocks → online text (page 1 of 4)